The future of the internet will depend on the outcome of an Apple versus Meta headset battle, claims Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
He told employees that the two companies had very different visions for the metaverse, and admitted that it’s not yet clear which will be better…
The metaverse is a term first coined by Neal Stephenson in the 1992 sci-fi novel Snow Crash. While there is no hard-and-fast definition of the term, it encompasses the idea of the internet existing as an immersive virtual world, accessed via some combination of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
Facebook has been the loudest proponent of the idea that the metaverse represents the future of the internet, while Apple has taken a more restrained view.
Apple’s industrial designers were unconvinced that consumers would be willing to wear headsets for long periods of time.
We recently summarized what we think we know so far about Apple’s headset plans, while a recent report suggests that Meta is working on a rather similar headset called the Quest Pro.
The Verge obtained a recording of Zuckerberg making the remarks in an all-hands meeting earlier this month.
Mark Zuckerberg believes that Apple and his company are in a “very deep, philosophical competition” to build the metaverse, suggesting the two tech giants are ready to butt heads in selling hardware for augmented and virtual reality.
The Meta CEO told employees earlier this month that they were competing with Apple to determine “what direction the internet should go in.”
“This is a competition of philosophies and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and tightly integrating that they build a better consumer experience. And we believe that there is a lot to be done in specialization across different companies, and [that] will allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.”
Surprisingly, while Meta’s CEO said he believed an open approach would create a larger metaverse ecosystem, he acknowledged that “it’s not really clear upfront whether an open or closed ecosystem is going to be better.” He said that Windows has won the PC battle, while Apple has been the most successful player in the mobile arena.
Zuckerberg also contrasted the two companies’ approaches to charging for their hardware.
We basically deliver our devices at cost or at a slight subsidy, or slightly more than cost in some cases. But the bottom line is our business is not primarily taking a premium on the devices.
You can read below Zuckerberg’s full remarks on the upcoming Apple versus Meta headset battle:
I think it’s pretty clear that Apple is going to be a competitor for us, not just as a product but philosophically. We’re approaching this in an open way and trying to build a more open ecosystem. We’re trying to make more stuff interoperable with Android. We’re trying to develop the metaverse in a way where you can bring your virtual goods from one world to another. We created the Metaverse Open Standards Group with a bunch of other folks that you just mentioned, and Apple didn’t join. But I don’t think that’s a surprise. Apple, for a few generations of computing now, has been the closed provider of computing.
This is a competition of philosophies and ideas, where they believe that by doing everything themselves and tightly integrating that they build a better consumer experience. And we believe that there is a lot to be done in specialization across different companies, and [that] will allow a much larger ecosystem to exist.
One of the things I think is interesting is that it’s not really clear up front whether an open or closed ecosystem is going to be better. If you look back to PCs, Windows was clearly the one that had a lot more scale and became the default and norm that people used. And Mac did fine, but I think PC and Windows were, I think, the premier ecosystem in that environment.
On mobile, I would say it’s more the other way. There’s more Android devices than there are iOS devices, but I think in developed countries and places like the US or Western Europe in kind of the high end, [and] a lot of the culture-setters and developers, I do think that skews quite a bit more towards iPhone and iOS. So I’d say on mobile, Apple has really carved out quite a good position for themselves, and that’s why they’re the most valuable company in the world, or maybe one of the couple most valuable companies in the world.
But I just don’t think that the future is written here yet for the metaverse. And I think part of our job is we’re going to continue doing leading research and pushing on this at all levels of the stack. We’re doing VR. We’re doing AR. We basically deliver our devices at cost or at a slight subsidy, or slightly more than cost in some cases. But the bottom line is our business is not primarily taking a premium on the devices. We want as many people to be interacting there as possible. Part of that is having it be an open ecosystem that’s interoperable.
Our north star is can we get a billion people into the metaverse doing hundreds of dollars a piece in digital commerce by the end of the decade? If we do that, we’ll build a business that is as big as our current ad business within this decade. I think that’s a really exciting thing. I think a big part of how you do that is by pushing the open metaverse forward, which is what we’re going to do.
So yeah, Apple is going to be a competitor. I think that’s pretty clear, but it’s actually a very deep competitor. It’s not fair [that] they have a device that has some more features than us. It’s a very deep, philosophical competition about what direction the internet should go in. And I am proud of the investments that we’re making to help push forward the open metaverse on this and hopefully make the next version of computing a bit more open.
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